Real Time RTL-SDR Passive Radar with Clutter Supression and Target Acquisition

Marcus Herber is a 4th year electrical engineering student at the University of Queensland, Australia. For his final year thesis he set out to build a real time RTL-SDR based passive radar with clutter suppression and automatic target acquisition. On YouTube he’s uploaded a video that gives a quick overview and demonstration of his project. The description reads:

For my final year electrical engineering thesis, I developed a real-time passive radar system with clutter suppression and target acquisition. This was mainly able to be achieved through the use of GPU computing, with CUDA. With any slight improvement of the following hardware (especially the GPU), the system would be able to perform much faster, and increase the number of frames per second. Choosing a slightly better GPU would also allow for a better SDR, with a faster sampling rate.

All the signal processing and the algorithm was done in Python 3, with the Anaconda distribution.

Hardware used:
-RTL-SDR Dongle
-GTX 950 Graphics card
-DAB+/DVB-T LPDA Antenna
-Intel Core i7 6700 Quad Core 3.4GHz CPU

Passive radar works by looking for signals being reflected off objects such as aircraft. Strong signals from broadcast towers can easily be reflected off an aircraft towards a directional antenna, then correlated with the broadcast signal received from another antenna. Then with some clever processing the relative speed and distance of the object can be determined.

Real-time RTL-SDR Passive Radar w/ Clutter Suppression + Target Acquisition

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Ahmed Azhad

Too late, soon you should see the blips from the bombs. I suggest you run before you see them!

In this case, the eye is a better source and gives more pleasure looking at the airplane.


Hi Marcus,
very interesting project! Do you think it’s possible to share the documentation of your final year project with us?